With a potential TV black out looming, the Bills prepare for the first of their NFC South division opponents, the Carolina Panthers. After last week’s heart breaker to New England, the Buffalo is ready again to show off their new face and fast pace to whoever bought the desperately sold $15 tickets at the Ralph. There are a few injuries that could restrict Buffalo’s play a little. Most notably, stand-out corner Stephon Gilmore and utility safety/corner Ron Brooks will be on the bench, adding to the already overcrowded infirmary that is the Bills defense. Jarius Byrd was limited in practice but unlikely to play Sunday. To make up for their losses, the Bills promoted undrafted rookie corner, Johnny Adams, from the practice squad to active duty. Right now, the most reliable corner they have healthy is Leodis McKelvin, which I’m sure has Mike Pettine nervous.
We all know Cam Newton is a rushing threat so, it goes without saying that he needs to be stopped. He threw for 125 yards and a TD and ran for 38 yards against the Seahawks in week 1, which coach Ron Rivera already said was far too conservative. He plans to open it up against the Bills’ depleted secondary. That means we’ll be seeing more out of Carolina’s accomplished 13 year veteran receiver, Steve Smith. However, the wild card in the passing game will be the Bills’ young defensive backs with something to prove. Still, look for Smith to put up some decent numbers Sunday. Also, If Newton can find a way through the Bills’ line, he’ll have plenty of running room before hitting the inexperienced safeties.
EJ Manuel looked pretty good for his first NFL game. He was poised in the pocket and made some brilliant throws (most of all, the TD pass to Stevie Johnson in coverage). That being said, he still has some freshman growing pains. The Panthers’ front 7 are tough and they’ll be ready for the CJ Spiller show. Second year linebacker, Luke Kuechly, was a big part of bottling up Seattle’s running game last week with 9 tackles. It has to come down to EJ’s arm and the ability of his receivers to make opportunities. Carolina’s secondary is much like that of the Bills’. Injuries and guys not playing where they’re used to playing has caused a lot of confusion. Last week, Russell Wilson was able to take advantage of that and passed for 320 yards against them. This may be an opportunity for Manuel to stretch out and have a good downfield game. He will, however, be short one of his new receivers. The rookie wide out and electric kick returner, Marquise Goodwin, will be sidelined for a while after having surgery on his broken hand this week.
If the Bills can get a vertical passing game going and find a couple holes for CJ in that tight Panthers line, they should be able to squeak out a win. Look for a couple bombs out of EJ as he stated in a press conference this week that they’ll be looking to hit TJ Graham for some long yardage on Sunday. The battle cry on defense needs to be “Contain Cam”. If he’s restricted and forced to play outside of his comfort zone, he’ll be exposed and likely to make mistakes.
– Josh Paufler
- Sunday September 15th 2013
- Kickoff 1:00 pm
- Ralph Wilson Stadium – Orchard Park, NY
- TV: FOX – Local Channel 29/6
- Radio: WGR 550 AM